When I lived in Pasadena, I was rudely awakened one morning to the sound of pounding on my door. I had been working late nights trying to finish up schoolwork, and was not entirely coherent at that point. Nevertheless, I opened the door only to be greeted by a man who shouted "Buenos dias!" in my bleary-eyed face. I think I grunted in response. Upon realizing that I would not be a good recipient for his proselytizing, he muttered "Um, read your Bible," and walked away. I nodded, closed the door, and went back to sleep. I've told this story quite a few times since then, always to big laughs, but I think something even funnier happened a couple of days ago.
Two weeks ago, I moved from the apartment with the Scary Stairs to a much bigger place a few blocks away. The new place has numerous advantages (and some quirks), but one of them is that we now enter the house through the indoor stairs, and our front porches look out over the street. There's no access to the porch, other than through the house (where we keep the doors locked). Or so we thought.
At 7 a.m. on Friday morning, I awoke to hear a man's voice in the house. While there is a couple that lives below us, they have not come into the house without letting us know, and the man never comes alone—always with his wife (it's a Khmer privacy/propriety thing, which I'm thankful for). So as I became increasingly aware of what was going on, I realized that The Voice kept repeating only one word, "Hello, Hello, Hello." My bedroom has a window that looks over the dining room, so I peeked my sleepy face out to find… a man! He was standing on our front porch, peering through our window (thank goodness for the bars on it!), trying to get our attention. As soon as he saw my face, he started to speak Khmer.
Now, my language proficiency is increasing, but 7 a.m. is decidedly not my best hour for Khmer. So I wandered downstairs attempting to figure out a few things. 1) who this person was; 2) why he was standing on my front porch; and 3) how he had arrived on the porch.
When I finally made it down the stairs and tried to talk to him (briefly wondering if I should unlock our door and let him in—early morning safety decisions are tough, I tell you), he indicated that I needed to go all the way downstairs to open our gate for someone to come in. Um, sure. Apparently I am very obedient early in the morning, because I did what I was told and found… yet another man, who wanted to come upstairs and visit us.
The second guy, at least, had a purpose. The windows in our apartment are great, but they don't have any screens. We asked for screens when we moved in and the landlord told us they would have to be specially made. No one mentioned that the man who was going to make the screens would show up at 7 a.m. (without warning) to measure the windows. Still, there he was. We somehow managed to have a conversation in which I learned what the cost of the window screens would be (though who was paying for them was a bit ambiguous) and in which I agreed that he could return the following day (at a more reasonable hour). He's been back again this morning (Saturday), around 9:30, and accompanied by the woman from downstairs (our landlord-liaison), and is supposedly making another appearance at any moment to actually add the screens.
This time, I'm awake and ready for him. Although I still haven't figured out how the other guy made it onto the front porch to begin with. That's an investigation for another day.